Previous Special Events

All Library locations will be closed on Monday, September 1, in observance of Labor Day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In 1982-83, William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways, a chronicle of traveling America’s back roads, spent 42 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list.

Thirty years after his 14,000-mile, 38-state journey, Least Heat-Moon re-examines the making of the book in a discussion of Writing Blue Highways: The Story of How a Book Happened. He reflects on the stops and starts in his composition process, the numerous drafts and painstaking revisions, and the depressing string of rejections by publishers.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Less than two weeks before Victor Espinoza tries to guide California Chrome to a Triple Crown-clinching victory in horse racing’s Belmont Stakes, Emory University professor Pellom McDaniels III looks back at a man who, more than a century earlier, set the standard of excellence for all jockeys. Isaac Burns Murphy was the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times, and his 44 percent overall win rate — nearly three times higher than Espinoza’s — remains unmatched. He was the highest-paid U.S. athlete of his time. And he happened to be African American.

McDaniels, a former Kansas City Chiefs lineman who now is faculty curator of African American collections at Emory, discusses his new biography of Murphy, whose life spanned the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the adoption of Jim Crow legislation. Before dying in 1896 at age 34, Murphy became an important figure not only in sports but also in the social, political, and cultural consciousness of African Americans.


Friday, May 23, 2014

The 2014 edition of the long-running Off-the-Wall Film Series, co-presented by The Kansas City Public Library and The Pitch, features musically-themed titles from 1984.

The series kicks off with this perennially popular film about a city kid (Kevin Bacon) who moves to a small town where the local preacher (John Lithgow) has banned rock music and dancing. But this young man just can’t sit still — nor can audiences watching this movie.

Films are screened outside on the Rooftop Terrace. Filmgoers are welcome to bring blankets and folding chairs. In cases of inclement weather, screenings will be moved indoors to Helzberg Auditorium. This title is Rated R and is recommended for adult audiences only.


Friday, May 23, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Emcee and vocalist Neil McIntyre (aka Mr. Kneeel), comes to town with a blend of hip-hop and beatboxing that’s both inspiring and fun.

McIntyre’s music is high energy and engaging and never insults a child’s intelligence. This is hip-hop that focuses on who kids are and what they enjoy.

Appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Incredibly wealthy individuals and corporations are radically redefining our electoral process in a way that, failing a dramatic intervention, signals the end of our democracy.

That’s the alarm raised by John Nichols in a discussion of his new exposé (co-written with Robert McChesney) of pay-to-play billionaires, election-buying corporations, activist judges who advance their agendas, and the media conglomerates that have blown off journalism for the sake of political advertising.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Best-selling urban fiction author Kimberla Lawson Roby discusses and reads from the latest novel in her popular series about the Rev. Curtis Black and his frequently dysfunctional family. Here the Reverend tries to win back his estranged son Matthew while dealing with long-hidden offspring Dillon, the result of a youthful dalliance.

Roby self-published her first book 17 years ago. She has written almost two dozen novels, among them The Perfect Marriage, Be Careful What You Pray For, Changing Faces, and Casting the First Stone. She is the winner of a 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Fiction.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

A now forgotten advertising slogan once proclaimed that Kansas City — proud of its “cowtown” heritage — was “where the steak is born.”

Local food critic Charles Ferruzza explores our town’s carnivorous proclivities, connecting the historical and cultural dots between the iconic Kansas City Stockyards, local steak joints, and the changing eating habits of the American people.

Ferruzza writes a weekly restaurant column for The Pitch, appears regularly on KCUR-FM and hosts the talk show “Anything Goes” on KKFI-FM.


Sunday, May 18, 2014
1:30pm @ Plaza Branch

The Lady Eve is one of the great screwball comedies. Barbra Stanwyk is a con artist who sets her sights on the bumbling heir to a brewing fortune (Henry Fonda). He’s not all that bright to begin with, and having just come off a couple of years in the South American jungles catching snakes he’s particularly vulnerable to the lady’s charms.


Friday, May 16, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Chain Reaction serves up solid science with a side of silliness. One thing leads to another in a hilarious chain reaction machine comprised of audience volunteers. Come enjoy this adventure with Jay and Leslie Cady of Laughing Matters.

In celebration of Children’s Book Week, Plaza Branch staff will also recognize the winners of the Kansas City Public Library’s annual Children’s Bookmark Contest.

Appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

For most of the Civil War, the role of cavalry was limited to reconnaissance and screening infantry movements. But at the Battle of Yellow Tavern (Virginia) on May 11, 1864, a mounted federal force defeated the legendary rebel cavalry of J.E.B. Stuart, who was mortally wounded and died a day later. The North realized that cavalry could be an essential offensive tool.

Observing the 150th anniversary of the battle, Louis DiMarco of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth examines the role of mounted combat in the Civil War.